In 2007, Steven Keating had his brain scanned out of sheer curiosity. He had joined a research study that included an MRI scan, & he asked that the scan’s raw data be returned to him. The scan revealed only a slight abnormality, near his brain’s smell center, which he was advised to have re-evaluated in a few years. A second scan, in 2010, showed no change, suggesting that the abnormality was most likely benign.

While the second scan provided reassurance, Steven’s knowledge of the abnormality — as a result of having access to the raw data from these scans — ultimately led to the detection of a baseball-sized tumor that was removed in 2014.

Since the surgery, Steven’s curiosity has only become more acute. This has been fueled, in large part, by his close connection with his doctors & the data they were able to provide. With this abundance of data, Steven was able to apply his own research interests to develop an intimate understanding of his brain & his tumor. In Oxman’s Mediated Matter Group, his research explores how to leverage 3-D printing & other fabrication methods to print everything from living organisms to entire buildings. 

Why do patients have the least access to their own data? Why can’t we have a hospital ‘share button’?

With the resources available to him at the Media Lab, Steven & his colleagues at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have pored over his health data & created digital & 3-D-printed models of his tumor, brain, & surgically repaired skull.

Now a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and based at the MIT Media Lab, Steven says that his curiosity saved his life — & that his experience with cancer has fueled a strong interest in advocating for open health data. Now Steven wants to share his experiences as a patient-scientist.

This engineer found his own brain tumor thanks to open medical data - Singularity Hub

Doctors often worry that giving patients too much information will be overwhelming or harmful. However, a study by OpenNotes is showing the exact opposite. After giving 20,000 patients access to doctor’s notes through the OpenNotes platform, patients reported feeling more in control, educated, and better at taking their medication...

Read the full article on Singularity Hub here

Steven Keating: Can Selfies Save You? - TED talk

Have you ever taken a “selfie”? Likely so – we all take photos of ourselves and we share the data with friends. But what about a medical “selfie?" What if it could save your life or millions of others?